The 17th of March this year was a very cold day. It was overcast and dreary. A bitterly cold wind blew. Ireland were playing England in rugby at the same time most parades were taking place, which makes it all the more extraordinary that people turned out at all to watch and cheer on the parades around the country.
The Blarney parade was smaller than previous years, and the crowd was definitely smaller too but they made up for it in sheer enthusiasm and good cheer. I have to salute those of the parade who walked the route dressed in uniforms or costumes. I could not have done it!
The other day I was reading through the very last issue of Ace Magazine when I came across an "In the Works" preview of a game called Bob. It was the temporary name given to a work-in-progress game by developers Bullfrog.
It meant nothing to me until I saw the screenshots.
That looks very familiar! It was the classic Bullfrog game, Syndicate!
Bob looked like a much more complex game than Syndicate turned out to be so I'm glad the game was tweaked and tuned before release. It's one of the few games I've actually finished, except for the American Revolt add-on. I never even managed to complete the first level in that! I haven't found much online that links the name Bob to Syndicate but this great RPS article does. That was published in 2008 and it's amusing to see the comments wishing for a remake of the game. We got them, they didn't make quite the same splash as the original.
Syndicate had the veneer of strategy. You could separate out your agents and send them off in different directions, but really, the most fun was to be had when all four were rocking gauss guns and causing all sorts of mayhem!
The very last level in Syndicate was really hard. You'd last all of about 10 seconds before succumbing to superior firepower until you figured out the right strategy to complete it. If you've already played it, or know you'll never do so, check out the video below:
Syndicate was followed by the American Revolt add-on. It comes packaged with the GOG release so you've no excuse not to try it, except that it's hard as nails. I don't feel bad saying that I had no idea how to complete the first level until I saw this ..
Syndicate Wars followed as a proper sequel some time later, but IMO it comes nowhere near being as immersive and addictive as the original Syndicate. I didn't like the graphics and it didn't sit right with me at all.
A modern remake of Syndicate came out in 2012, which I bought in 2014, but it only runs on Windows so I haven't played it much.
In 2015 a spiritual successor to the original Syndicate was released, Satellite Reign. It looks beautiful, and the screenshots have that Syndicate vibe but to play it is painful.
On a more positive note, there's also Free Synd, a GPLed implementation of the Syndicate game engine. The last release was in 2016 however.
The original 1993 version of Syndicate is available on GOG. I highly recommend it. Even if your computer isn't powerful it's bound to be better than even the most expensive home PC or Amiga of the time. GOG have packaged the game with Dosbox so it's a one click install and run. The game is cheap and well worth checking out if you're a gamer.
The death of Ann Lovett, a 15 year old Irish school girl in 1984 should be remembered today, International Women's Day.
She died following the birth of her son in front of a grotto on a cold January afternoon.
It was here, on the bitterly-cold, wet afternoon of Tuesday, 31 January, 1984, that Ann Lovett, a warm, clever and artistically-gifted 15-year-old girl, left Cnoc Mhuire (The Hill of Mary) Secondary School. She walked the length of Granard, past her Main Street home, to the grotto of the Blessed Virgin to give birth to her son. He died at birth. Around 4pm, schoolchildren found her schoolbag and heard her crying by the grotto. Ann was haemorrhaging heavily and suffering from exposure. They raised the alarm and a local farmer came to their aid. He ran to the nearby house of the parish priest, who said “It’s a doctor you need”. “I need you too, Father,” he replied. “The baby is dead and the little girl might be dying too.” Ann was carried to the priest’s house. A doctor was called and he drove Ann to her home. There, an ambulance arrived, far too late. Ann died in Mullingar Hospital a short time later.
15. Just 15 years old. Ireland has changed for the better but women are still second class citizens.
More fun in the snow today of course. Storm Emma wasn't quite as strong as we were all led to believe (voluntary curfew from 4pm yesterday to noon today for example), but it still dumped more snow on us that I've ever seen in Ireland.
All that snow made it easy to build another snowman or two, and provided plenty of ammo for a snowball fight later in the day. Snowballs to the side of the head can hurt …
One of our cats, Hoppy, disappeared for several hours today making us very worried because of the cold temperatures and drifting snow. We went out searching for her several times, talked to neighbours and called for her throughout the day. She suddenly reappeared tonight looking for petting and attention and purring loudly. Her coat was barely wet and wasn't cold so she had found somewhere warm and dry to hide away in. Should have known she'd land on her feet!
Looks like rain tomorrow. The two snowmen in the back garden won't like that!
The second day of snow and Storm Emma will make landfall around 9pm tonight apparently. Schools were closed, hardly anyone driving but kids were out playing in the snow. I'm glad we're watching Peanuts the Movie tonight!
The local Mill Pond was frozen over, temperatures didn't rise above 0C all day but it was nice to see blue skies.
There's one thing you have to do when it snows and that's building a snowman. My son got a bucket and added castles all around it to protect him from the maddening hoards of invaders that befall every snowman!
Fingers crossed Storm Emma isn't as bad as we all feared!
The snow has arrived! The #BeastFromTheEast is upon us! In Blarney snow fell this morning for about 40 minutes and left the ground looking lovely and white when you're inside. It was awful if you had to go out in it though!
The snow fall didn't last long. Getting back up the hill into my estate was fun, involving high revs in first gear. Thankfully some of my neighbours had put gravel down on the road which helped. The relief as I felt the tyres catch on the rough surface was wonderful.
School is out at 11am though, so the kids get snow and bright pleasant, if cold, weather.
Aaron Feis threw himself in front of students and was shot protecting them from a gunman during a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Another staff member, Scott Beigel, was also killed while ushering his students into his classroom out of harm's way. Image found on Reddit.
Hi everyone, my name is Sid, I'm a Junior at Stoneman Douglas and I'd like to share my story of what went on in room 1214, the third room that was shot into by the shooter, and where Nick Dworet (second to top right) and Helena Ramsey (second to bottom right) were killed. 2:20 PM – We are working on the laptops doing an online activity when we hear about 10-15 gunshots outside of our door. Everyone scatters and from about 25 kids, two groups were split in different corners. I was in the corner that is immediately to the right of the entrance, Nick was in the back right corner that could be immediately seen from the entrance. The group with Nick and Helena were trying to form a barricade with a cabinet and a computer cart (one that holds laptops and charges them) but without even 20 seconds to react, the shooter comes to our door and starts shooting through the window of the door. He was shooting at the corner that Nick and Helena were in as well as about 12 other students with them in that corner. Nick got caught in the fire and died immediately, Helena also got caught and was shot twice in her chest. I was in the opposite corner so I couldn't see his body because a cabinet was in the way, and I'm thankful that I didn't witness his body because it probably would have affected me much more. A girl told me she had to use Nick's body as a shield once she saw he was dead immediately 🙁 Here is an edited version of the map to show the corner where I was hiding (blue), where Nick and Helena were (orange) and where the shooter was shooting from (red). Thank you for the support you have been giving. And if any of you came out to the vigil yesterday, I have no words for how happy I am that you came to support.